It is impossible to reach age 95 without a few poignant memories and a few good stories to tell. Such is the life of Jessie Short. Jessie lives now in Ridgewood Lodge, but she did not always live there and before coming to Princeton, Short saw and did some pretty interesting things along the way.
Born in 1916, in Chilliwack, B.C., Short grew up with three siblings, younger brother Elmer and two older sisters May and Florence. Jessie Goodall and her family operated a dairy farm. Her family history in Canada began when her grandfather left England in the 1860’s during the American Civil War and settled in Ontario. In 1884, the Goodalls headed west starting up their dairy farm in B.C.
Jessie and her siblings enjoyed farm life, but there came a time when a man from Indiana caught her attention. Frank Short and Jessie were married and soon had a growing family of their own with three kids, Jim, Louise and Verne. Frank worked as a truck driver, in logging camps, in shipping yards and on a farm of their own. During the war, Frank worked at the shipyards in Vancouver doing his part while Jessie held down the home front.
Once the boys grew old enough they helped out on the farm and eventually took over its operation for a time, but before then, much happened to keep the Short family busy. One frightful scare for the family came innocently enough when a tired young Verne fell asleep in the potato patch out behind the barn. The family grew frantic looking for him. “We had been down to the slew earlier to water the cattle,” said Jessie. “When we couldn’t find Verne, we thought he must have fallen in. It was an awful feeling.” When Verne had finished his nap and started wandering back to the house, the whole family breathed a huge sigh of relief. “I was so happy to see Verne,” Jessie exclaimed. “It was such a relief to know he was okay. He had been missing for several hours.”
Following in his brother’s footsteps for sleeping in strange places, brother Jim disappeared one day too after his late night graduation. I felt really spry when got home,” said Jim. “Mom had me out milking the cows and hoeing the corn and I was doing well for a while. Then, I disappeared and woke up in the corn patch.”
“Apparently our family liked sleeping in the dirt,” joked son Verne.
Husband Frank passed away in ‘73 at the age of 63 and left Jessie with a legacy of family. Jessie is the proud grandmother to nine grandchildren and twenty great grandchildren. After moving off the farm, Jessie followed her other passions. She joined the Bobbin Lace club, took up crocheting, knitting, ceramics, and sewing with a real enthusiasm. Short made red satin shirts for the riding club one year and dance costumes for a niece. She was also a Noble Grand with the Ruth Rebekah Lodge. Jessie moved from a house to a townhouse in Maple Ridge.
The family farm was very self-sufficient. “We had a big garden and fruit trees on top of all the animals,” Jessie stated “and it was a good thing too because we always seemed to have company.” In 1948, the family watched the flood take over parts of the valley. “It rained and rained and rained,” said Jessie. “It was unbelievable to see. Then a dyke broke and water was everywhere. Livestock died, homes were destroyed, buildings floated away and many farmers had to reseed. It was a catastrophe to the Lower Mainland.”
After years spent in the Lower Mainland working very hard, Jessie was forced to slow down. Health issues had her moving in with her son Verne for a while. “I decided to look into alternatives for Mom here,” stated Verne. “I had heard good things about Vermilion Court and Ridgewood Lodge. Verne found a spot for his mom first at Vermilion and then at Ridgewood where she presently resides. She has survived a heart attack, cancer, a broken hip and has a rod in her leg. Farm life has made Jessie tough enough to take a licking and keep on ticking and smart enough to know life is precious and needs to be enjoyed. She has passed on her wisdom and hard work ethic to her children who like to fill their days with a healthy dose of humour. Jim and Verne both live in Princeton and treasure their time with their mom. “I have had a good life,” said Jessie “and I am glad to have my boys nearby.”